‘Never be boring’

Glen Bagnara

An interview with

Our partners

Glen Bagnara is an Australian hospitality visionary. The creative force behind Melbourne’s celebrated Hemingway’s Wine Room, he is currently collaborating with Fortis on two soon-to-open establishments at 67 Palmerston in South Melbourne—the ground-floor café, Clementine, and downstairs supper club, Castlerose. We caught up with Glen recently to find out what patrons can expect.

Q—Glen, can you tell us about the background to Clementine and Castlerose please?

A—I’ve always been inspired by significant individuals and world leaders, so for these projects we’ve channelled Sir Winston Churchill as our inspiration. Our motto is ‘never be boring’. Whilst we understand most successful venues have a tried and tested formula, it’s important to think outside the box a little to create exciting guest experiences.

Starting with the café, we wanted a bright and beautiful fit-out that suited our corporate clientele as well as locals, so we decided to name it ‘Clementine’ after Churchill’s wife. She was a guiding influence in his life as well as a loyal partner and sidekick. She was also a fabulous host and savoured the finer things in life, especially when it came to food and beverage.

For the downstairs supper club, Castlerose, we have channelled Winston Churchill directly, creating an experience that is service led, interesting and driven by exceptional product and delivery. We also wanted an environment that allows our guests to enjoy it in the way they see fit, a little like the local pub but with more opulence, where your experience may vary each time you visit. Perhaps that’s combining the graces of a full Churchill experience over dinner with a group of friends or colleagues where exceptional food is at the forefront, champagne is plentiful and cocktails flow throughout the evening. Or maybe it’s just a quick catch up with a friend mid-week or casual dinner and bottle of wine with your partner. Either way, there will be strong focus on tradition that transports you to a time when local institutions were enduring and experience was key to a great night out.

Q—How would you describe your underlying philosophy for each venue?

A—For Clementine, we have used that classic ‘Melbourne café’ palette as our base, combined with old school sophistication presented in a refreshingly modern way. Yes, all the usual café favourites will be therehowever we believe our reimagined dishes are what regulars will come back for, time and time again. We will be embracing the different backgrounds of our kitchen team, bringing in influences from Europe and Asia to shape the menu, while still retaining the classic Melbourne vibe. There will also be a big focus on cocktails and wine to encourage long lunches and provide a more sophisticated setting when compared with other cafés in the area.

The vision for Castlerose, on the other hand, draws its inspiration from the revered subterranean parties Churchill hosted during WW2. They’re the stuff of legend! The menu focuses on traditional dishes served with elegance, high-quality proteins and exceptional sauces. These sit perfectly alongside a wonderfully-curated wine list and stunning 19th Century-inspired cocktails.

Q—What about décor? What kind of experience can guests expect?

A—Clementine has a really energetic café vibe, with a stunning colour palettevibrant, charming and warm. It has a feeling of old school charm mixed with modern flourishes and classic Melbourne touch points with a playful nature and coffee machine taking pride of place.

Castlerose is opulent, dark and brooding, with a distinct 19th Century feel that evokes feelings and emotions of times gone by. Traditional in every sense, its design transports the senses to well-loved institutions and will never date.

Q—What clientele will Clementine and Castlerose appeal to?

A—Clementine and Castlerose will have something to offer for everyone who lives and works in the area around South Melbourne and Albert Park. With the café opening early in the morning and supper club open until late, there is an opportunity to deliver different experiences throughout the working day and weekends—not only for those who live or work nearby, but foodies who like to travel, tourists and folks from other parts of Melbourne.

Q—Location is always so important. Why did you choose 67 Palmerston in South Melbourne?

A—It’s such a beautiful building. Right from the beginning we were very excited to see the final product. We also feel this part of South Melbourne is under serviced from a food and beverage perspective, which presents a wonderful opportunity for us to build a great business on solid foundations and ideals.

Q—Taking a broader look, how would you describe the hospitality landscape in Melbourne right now?

A—The current trend is certainly moving towards more simple offerings. However, quality expectations are also higher than ever. Wine-centric bars will remain popular in the current climate due to the ease and flexibility of their offerings. With our bespoke menus at Castlerose, our guests will never be locked into set menus or expensive beverage options. With regard to day-time cafés like Clementine, these will remain an important part of people’s lives, as they have been for decades here in Melbourne. No matter how tight things might be, there will be always space for a quality café to become a regular part of people’s lives.

Q—Just finally, there’s certainly no shortage of excellent dining options in Melbourne’s inner suburbs right now. What will be the keys to success?

A—The easy answer is to say ‘quality food and drinks and excellent service’. This is, and remains, a central part of any successful food business. However, in current times this also has to sit comfortably alongside a prominent and well put together PR program, a captivating social media presence as well as stunning and quality fit-outs to create experiences where our guests feel like they are in an extension of their homes or offices. We feel that, with help from Fortis, we have been able to create this in both Clementine and Castlerose. We’re really looking forward to continue working together.

67 Palmerston, South Melbourne

Visit clementine3205.com.au
Visit castlerose.com.au

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